It has recently been announced the Toronto Maple Leafs have fired Mike Babcock. Babcock has been relieved of his duties, and Sheldon Keefe of the AHL Toronto Marlies has been named the head coach of the historic franchise.
Think back to the year 2015, when Babcock signed a contract with Toronto. The contract worth over $50 million made him the highest paid coach in the NHL. Hockey fans and writers everywhere believed he was the answer to Toronto’s struggles, and it was only a matter of time until we would see the blue and white hoisting Lord Stanley.
Even though I have never been a Mike Babcock fan, I believe he is one of the best coaches in the NHL. Babcock has an overall record of 700-418-19-164 with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, Detroit Red Wings, and the Toronto Maple Leafs. However, Toronto has been struggling this season, posting a record of 9-10-4 and currently sit in 4th place in the Eastern Conference Wild Card race. It’s not a terrible record, but with the talented lineup the Maple Leafs have the results are very disappointing. Think about it, you have stars like Auston Matthews, John Tavares, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, Morgan Reilly, and Frederik Anderson between the pipes. You would assume this lineup would be deadly night in and night out, but as we have learned, that’s not always the case. In fact, the Maple Leafs have lost six games straight including the 4-2 Vegas Golden Knights last night.
Was firing Mike Babcock the right move? Some people might say yes and others might say no. I personally think it was the right move for the Leafs organization. Babcock has proven he has what it takes to be a successful coach in the NHL, however the Maple Leafs have been victims of early first round playoff exits in the past 3 seasons. In addition, the Maple Leafs show no sign of improvement as of late. Former players have spoken about Babcock’s arrogance throughout the years, and it’s possible he has lost the locker room. Everyone knows when that happens to a coach its goodnight moon. Firing the coach is always the first move when trying to get an organization back on track.
I believe the Maple Leafs organization felt their AHL coach has done a great job developing the young talented players on the Marlies, and hope he can carry that success into their NHL organization. This might be the end of Mike Babcock in Toronto, but this has not been the last we have seen of him. I wouldn’t be surprised if another NHL team contacts him in the near future.